Writing for 15 Minutes:

I’ve tried different options each day. Some days in the journal just to get out thoughts, even shred the pages sometimes. Other times I write in my journal parts of my ideas for my Drawing/Writing project or a different essay format project.

This is the latest, putting some of the writing in the blog. Last week I thought of changing the subtitle to: “Pictures and Words”. Maybe that would be the title of the Drawings I’m doing, but “Drawings and Words” or “Lines and Words”.

The blog does feel like it joins pictures and words. “Words and Pictures” sounds off. It’s weird as the film “Words and Pictures” sounded fine and stuck in my mind. The film isn’t great but there are cool things going on in it. Like the idea of pitting students against each other in a crazy contest between words/writing and pictures/images. Why shouldn’t writing and making art be a kind of sport and why not have competitions like that. The students had to struggle with how to convince people that Words and writing, uses of words are most important or that images of all kinds, whether paintings, drawings or photos, or some mixture, are more vital than words. Which does the world need more?

It’s an absurd idea but to some aliens, people going nuts watching a bunch of humans dressed in a costume run back and forth across a field kicking a round object seems as absurd as a contest between pictures and words.

Cake or cupcakes? I say definitely cupcakes for lots of reasons. Coffee or tea? Tomato or tomato?Dogs or cats? Football or soccer?

Books or Films? Graphic novels and comics are so perfect in their genre combining both pictures and words, the actual written form on paper, as opposed to films with image and speaking. Obviously TV and film accomplish both, but at the same time, they are missing the thing of turning pages, of reading or reading/looking in the case of the graphic novel.

Right now I am reading the Lemony Snickett books, whole post could be on that, out loud with my 10 year old. We’ve seen the TV series, so it’s interesting reading the real books that spawned the film and TV. It’s great most of all because it’s a book about books, about reading and how reading is the escape from the troubles and unfortunate and fortunate events of life. It’s about words as well, and how we define them.

It appeals to me because books were my haven as a child. I put off learning to read until first grade, probably because I liked being read to. Once I started reading, I found a magic place that is impossible to describe and unlike TV or film or even audio books. Sitting alone with a book, you have a companion full of great stuff, words and pictures…

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The Mid Life Crisis, Continued. Movies

There have been great movies made about people having a mid life crisis. Too many are about men experiencing one: “American Beauty”, “Lost in Translation”, “Manhattan”, etc.

Are there any good movies about women or other gender identified people having a good old fashioned mid life crisis? Woody Allen made one, “Another Woman”, (1988). It’s a great def fpiction of a woman going through all the aspects of a mid life crisis. There’s the idea of having a sudden break of time, where you’re not doing everything as usual, in this case a sabbatical, then the way things can suddenly appear different and give you a different view of yourself, noticing other people’s perceptions of you not matching your own, the typical suddenly looking at a long marriage and seeing it and yourself and your partner differently. Noticing someone else and it having a big effect on your own self identity and concept of who you are. Big changes happening as a result, some that you don’t engage in as a choice. I found the movie very compelling even when I wasn’t viewing it as a mid life crisis movie.

I can’t really think of or find many movies about women having a mid life crisis. The Huffington Post dug up movies that will make you feel better about your mid life crisis, with women as the protagonist, “Enough Said”, “It’s Complicated”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, “Kramer vs. Kramer”. I draw the line at that one. Just because Meryl Streep is in the movie does not mean it’s a genuine mid life crisis movie. Yes, it has a lot of the ingredients, and she is the character that’s going through a crisis of identity, but she is just too young to make it convincing to me. It feels like she is questioning her life and choices, but it doesn’t have the elements of urgency having to do with a sense of the life span. It’s more like, she’s still young and wants to rewrite her story, but it isn’t that she wakes up and looks back on a long life with many choices and all the other complicated elements of a mid life crisis.

This is movie land, so all the movies you could dig up on this topic are full of the usual drama. There has to be a lot of extreme stuff going on on the outside to portray the big conflicts of mid life that go on inside the character.

In real life, it isn’t always about affairs, divorce, affairs, losing one’s mind, affairs, falling in love with someone really young to gain back one’s youth.

The title “In Search of Lost Time” sums it up well. I haven’t read the book, so it’s the title that appeals to me.

To be continued…

Writing 101 Day Six: A character building experience

Who’s the most interesting person you’ve met this year?

Obviously, the true answer would be too personal for this blog, so I’m picking a fictional character, a superhero, the one with the most “character” flaws! I thought after I picked him, of picking a real life female artist discovery, but decided to go with this one anyway, because it’s irreverent. I’m picking the character Ironman, who is also known as Tony Starks. I also didn’t “meet” him this year. I saw the Ironman movies last year and probably maybe the year before or a few years ago. I remember when the first one came out, I had no interest in it, so I didn’t get excited about them til recently. Anyway, I’m writing about Ironman, as I can’t think of anyone else of interest that’s not too personal and I find him fascinating…

(Spoiler alert: lots of talk about these three movies, especially the last, Ironman 3 which is by far the best.) Note: Ironman 3 is just so kickass, it’s the best of the three, which in itself is pretty cool, as I don’t know any other movies where the third one is so great and the best. Despicable Me 2 is better than number 1, but it’s only number 2.

Tony Starks does not go through the “typical” transformation that other superheroes go through. He does not come from another planet like Superman and has no magical powers, beyond what he builds. He can’t fly without his Ironman suit. Unlike many others, even Batman, he wears human regular clothes all the time, even when in his Ironman suit. So he has no cape or spandex outfit like Spiderman, Superman, Batman, Robin, Cat woman, Supergirl, etc.

Unlike the other superheroes who are human, he does not have the typical inner conflict split or outside duality of concealing his superhero identity and acting like a human, the way Clark Kent is for Superman  (even though Superman isn’t human, Clark Kent is his “human” costume), and Batman has an alter human ego. So does Spiderman.

So I’ve said what Ironman isn’t. Now what is he instead? He’s a person, mortal, human, flawed, sarcastic, sometimes an asshole even, not such a great boyfriend, but he at least has the balls to just have a girlfriend instead of getting all conflicted about worrying that by being his girlfriend, she will be put in danger, which she is, especially in Ironman 3. He also does stuff other squeaky clean superheroes don’t do. He gets drunk at his own birthday party and acts like a jerk. He’s a bad drunk, a showoff and ignores his girlfriend. He flirts with other women. He develops a mental illness, Panic Disorder, by Ironman 3, and he isn’t nice and squishy sweet with kids (Ironman 3). He gets a kid to help him and doesn’t care that the kid has no dad and doesn’t try to be a dad figure. He treats the kid like an adult, asks him for stuff and doesn’t care that much about him at first. By the end he’s formed a pretty cool relationship with the boy, but on a real level, not like a typical superhero. He does “get” right away that the kid is bullied in school and uses it as a bargaining chip to get what he needs from him. He even gets the kid’s help when he’s in the middle of a panic attack.

The other great thing about Ironman, is that Tony is not like his dad. He knows a lot of science and math but he’s really almost an “artist”; he’s a “mechanic”, meaning at his heart and soul, he just needs to get “stuff” and build things with his hands. He has a fancy computer that helps him with stuff, but he can go to a hardware store and buy a bunch of stuff to rebuild an Ironman suit. He “tinkers”. He likes to use his hands and his brain. So no matter how sophisticated the computer equipment and gadgets, he can just take a bunch of “stuff” and get to work with his hands. I find that very compelling as a person who uses my hands to make stuff and no computer involvement. I like paper and pens, sewing by hand, using real materials. In Ironman 3, he is figuring out the coolest aspect of the suit, how to summon it from far away, so the different parts rush over to him and cover his body, which he puts to use in a grand exciting way at the end. But what is really endearing is that he can take over the kid’s garage with a few things and get going in the middle of nowhere.

He also doesn’t sleep enough and spends too much time “tinkering” and not enough time with his girlfriend Pepper Potts. Despite being a jerk, he wants to be a better person for her, and he has his moments of humility and his moments of really expressing how much he loves her. He also does silly things like give her silly gifts she has no interest in. The big bunny in Ironman 3 was so great, I really had a fantasy of wanting to be his girlfriend and get that gigantic blowup bunny in the driveway. I’d prefer to be more like the character Scarlett Johanson plays starting in the second movie. She speaks a lot of languages and holds her own with him, pretty much challenges him and is way smarter than him and could probably take him down with her martial arts talents in a minute.

It might just be that Robert Downey Jr. knows how to play this guy as a real person, someone you can relate to. I loved the moment at the end of Ironman 1, it’s the anti-superhero moment. He’s having a press conference where you expect him to bullshit about Ironman’s mysterious identity like Superman or the others would; they would never own up to their other identity. But just when the people in the know expect him to keep the cover up, he gets that mischevious look and announces with a lot of hutspa and the grandiosity of a five year old, “I am Ironman!”

There you have it. The anti- superhero. He can’t keep it secret; he likes the attention. He can be full of himself, but then he’s really sweet and way more thoughtgul than you’d imagine. His real cover up is his sort of don’t care asshole exterior, when at heart he is a sweet romantic, which comes out at the right moments.

The other thing I identify with is that he likes to work on his own. He’s not a “team player.” He may help others, but he prefers to work by himself. He doesn’t want a Robin, and he doesn’t want to be part of a team. He would never work at a newspaprer like Clark Kent. In the Avengers, when they are trying to recruit him to join the others, he initially right away says no to saving the world with the other Avengers, explaining, “I don’t play well with others.” Me too. I work in my studio by myself. I don’t have anyone help with my art or “assistants”, and I don’t partner up as an art therapist. I like being alone. I don’t like being in groups of more than a few people. He joins the Avengers anyway, but he deosnt’ work well with others and gets in the way a lot and makes himself a nuicaance but a useful one anyway. I confess I am very excited to see Avengers 2, really only because RDJ will be playing Ironman, probably for the last time. I hope they don’t make an Ironman 4 with someone else, because after the first 3, there just is nobody else who could really be this guy.

I could go on but you get the general idea. Ironman is a total original, an anti-superhero who still does good stuff and saves people, but on his terms with his mistakes and foibles, and with no cover ups or secrets. Sometimes it’s a good thing to not be able to keep secret who you are. He is Tony and Ironman and a mechanic who tinkers all at once. He is truly his own person…

 

Blogging 101: Kindness is Magic Movie Serum, Transformations, Transformers and Transformees

Blogging 101: Assignment 1, Stream of consciousness writing about anything for 20 minutes.

I did mine yesterday during a long car ride and timed it; it turned out I was writing for 51 minutes in my journal, so now I’m transcribing it to post it. Warning! It will be over twice as long… Some frustrations: not remembering character’s full names, so I will look them up before posting, and not being able to discuss a bunch of the movies I mentioned, especially: Tootsie, St. Vincent, Birdman, Barefoot, Bringing up Baby, Philadelphia Story Being John Malcovich, Stranger Than Fiction (2006), and going into detail about the transformations in them, but it would be a way too long post!

My topic: Kindness is Magic Movie Serum, Transformations, Transformers and Transformees:
Most movies that move people involve transformation of course. Even though that’s obvious, I’m very interested in the mechanics of it, as I’ve been watching a bunch of different kinds of movies, both in theaters and on DVD or Netflix or other at home movie venues.

Here’s a list not in any order of recent ones I’ve seen: Cinderella 2015 made with people not animated, Home 2015 animated 3D in theaters, then movies at home: Groundhog Day (3rd or 4th viewing), The Anderson Tapes (from the 70’s?), Gone Girl 2014, Birdman 2014, Tootsie (1982), St. Vincent 2014, Barefoot (2014).

In most of these movies, which are a mixture of genres: romance, children’s fairy tale romance, children’s adventure movie sci-fi save the world, crime thriller, romantic comedies and for Birdman – independent style not sure the genre- drama? But it’s a “second chance/mid-life rebirth” type movie or falls into the category of movies like one of my fave classics, All About Eve, actually very similar. Bette Davis is the Birdman character; she is not changing genres like he is from blockbuster superhero to serious stage actor as an “old” actor”, but competing with her so-called admirer crafty younger actor who resembles the Edward Norton guy – very similar issues involved actually. Then St. Vincent- not sure the genre, drama with bad to good style plot- the guy Vincent starts out “bad” and is revealed to have always had good qualities, but also transforms in the present into a “gooder” person, a bit like the guy Jay in Barefoot, who has just come out of jail and is viewed as a total mess up failure, especially by his family. In St. Vincent, the boy Oliver is the Transformer, and in Barefoot it’s the girl/woman Daisy whom he finds on the psych ward who is an “idiot savant” type. I love Bill Murray and I’ve seen him in a bunch of movies with this kind of transformation, you have Scrooged, Ground Hog Day and St. Vincent all similar transformations. He’s even in Tootsie but not playing the main person, Dustin Hoffman’s Guy/Woman, Michael/Dorothy Michaels.

So my intense interest in transformation in these movies is the way there is the main character, usually has to be “likeable” despite being self-centered, uncaring, an “asshole” etc. like Vincent, Phil in Groundhog, Michael in Tootsie, and just how the person gets transformed by another key character and/or device that transforms him/her, what I call the “Transformer”. The word “trans” means cross over so the whole word means to cross over from one form to another. Many of these movies play with physical transformation versus spiritual, or outside appearance versus what’s inside/soul. Tootsie and Cinderella are the most obvious ones. In Tootsie, what is so fascinating is that Michael invents Dorothy and then he himself as the better part of him, in the form of the invented woman actor Dorothy Michaels is the Transformer. Unusual where the Transformee is transformed by a Self inside him of his own making; in addition, as Dorothy he transforms many of the characters in the film…

Crossing over involves a kind of metaphorical bridge- the plot device that the character goes through. In many movies the Transformer character is usually “heroic” in some way and can stand for some idea, like Cinderella in this version stands for goodness and courage. She is transformed spiritually or “inside” at the beginning of the movie through loss- a common transforming device –death-, the loss of her mother. Her mother passes the transformation message to Cinderella: “Be kind and have courage.” The girl Ella loses her mom and eventually also her dad and is changed into Cinderella, given a new name by the evil stepsisters and turned into a maid/servant by the evil stepmother.

Whether in tattered clothes or magically fancy princess clothes on the outside which have an expiration time, midnight, – Cinderella remains the same on the inside. Ironically, in this version the fairy godmother turns from homeless old woman to fancy fairy lady and uses her magic to create the changed dress, coach and footmen horses, – lots of dazzling outer transformations which do nothing to the inside sweet courageousness of C. She meets the prince, who is the Tranformee in this film (it’s the opposite of the usual movie focused on the Transformee, here most focus and scenes involve C. the transformer and luckily, hardly any involve the prince.)

The meeting in the forest, their first meeting, is where C’s Transformer power passes the message to the prince, and when he receives it like a truth serum he becomes transformed, not from bad to good but from ordinary and oblivious/unaware, uninteresting to awakened and aware. C’s power on him is to get him to see the world around him completely differently and to become awakened, much the same as what the young woman Daisy in Barefoot does to Jay through the movie device of a mixed up “road trip” (many road trip movies use the idea of going on a long journey in the physical realm crossing into a journey in the metaphorical realm). The rest of the film involves the usual drama with the fairy godmother, The Fancy Big Ball, the glass shoe and magic stuff, but for me the moment of magic –prince out hunting encounters girl on horseback saving the deer and shooting her truth arrow into him such that he spares the deer’s life at her request and calls off the hunt. That was where the movie’s main interest sort of ended for me.

Often Transformer characters are very sensitive and have an awareness or even communion with animals that ordinary people do not. Cinderella reminds me of Derek in Ricky Gervais’ TV show Derek, as both pass the message of “kindness is magic” and both love animals and have a special relationship with them. So I confess I loved the moment C locks eyes with the handsome deer (more majestic and dazzling than the silly looking prince, maybe the big male deer symbolizes whom the prince turns into) as well as her relationship with the mice who are her only friends. While this movie didn’t thrill me, it made me think, and I liked the focus being mainly on C. portrayed as a real person, slightly elevated in kindness, also an outcast/outsider/loner, seen by her step family as stupid, foolish, unworthy and not even a girl, and less focus on the prince. The way C. gets transformed is that her faith in life/hope is challenged when she loses her father and gets kind of abducted controlled by the stepmother and sisters, and she has a moment of not believing and stopping hoping for anything to get better for her, then is restruck with faith- a common transformation of a transformer good person character.

Like in Groundhog Day the character Rita, she doesn’t change much as a person but even she has preconceptions that Phil is shallow, selfish and egocentric. Throughout the movie, she gets thrown from one side to the other, seeing him that way and being surprised by something unknown about him, and in “falling” for him she does transform her view of him, but she is mainly the Inspiration/Muse of his big transformation.

The device that transforms Phil is the Supernatural, the plot of the movie. Every day he wakes up is Feb. 2, Groundhog Day until he is fully transformed by the end of the movie into the man he could be and turns into it through living the same day over, maybe 100 times or more, so that by the end of the movie, his goodness and caring for other people which is caused by his “awakening” actually lead to his focus shifting from getting the muse- Rita, whom he is in love with, to falling for the town he is stuck in and all the people in it. It’s great that he keeps waking up but it takes a lot of literal wakings up to really “wake up”!!!

There is a lot of interesting metaphorical stuff in his repetition of the day, he is literally reborn as he dies many times and wakes up back in the inn at 6am Feb. 2. I’m areal sucker for this film, I rewatched it a few months ago after years, so that time I hardly remembered the details and that viewing of the movie did have a kind of magic transformation on me, the viewer. I really love these types of awakenings movies; even the C movie (I’m super sick of that fairly tale I am so annoyed by it,) but still, it cast a spell on me.

Groundhog Day, like Cinderella, actually gave me a dose of wakening/inspiration serum to become a better person. Yesterday I saw it a third time a few weeks after the other time. Again I had an “aha” moment where I made a conscious decision work on being present and mindful more in my life, to try to be the kind of person Phil has become at the end. After seeing Cinderella I felt the same, so the movie itself can be not so great/mediocre and still shoot the arrow of, wake up in your life, look around you and be aware and wake. Of course it’s better if the movie is really good. So now I’m testing out this recent viewing of Groundhog Day to see how long this “spell” may work on me. It’s on my list of favorite “romantic comedies”; up they’re with Happy Accidents – also involving supernatural, Bringing up Baby, and The Philadelphia story, Being John Malkovich and Stranger Than Fiction. Groundhog Day crosses from romantic comedy to supernatural comedy like Stranger than Fiction. There are more old movies that I love, but that’s what I remember without looking on the Internet while writing this.

Groundhog Day’s spell on me – its’ the next day of my life, but I’m still in a heightened sate of consciousness induced by it. I love the idea that lera to really be present and awake and mindful of the here and now, you really do repeat the same day over and over. The movie is saying that life itself is like that. Ordinary daily life can by transformed by one’s own consciousness. Every day we wake up with a new chance to live in that simple magic of the moment, and when that happens it sometimes does seem like animals can talk…

Let’s Travel, and Castle on a Cloud



I am working on a large coloring mural, which is marvelous and full of wonders, a world map with an elephant, a whale, a unicorn, and also at the top on one of the clouds, a little castle on a cloud…

I recently heard this song, “Castle on a Cloud”, for the first time performed by children at a show; then I watched the movie version of “Les Miserables” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1707386/), made in 2012, mostly because I wanted to see and hear the song in the movie! As I expected,, much of the movie was miserable, however, the moment when the child playing Cosette sings the song, Castle on a Cloud, was so beautiful, an enchanted gem in a muddy too long movie. The lyrics are also beautiful and they capture what children (and deep down, probably adults too), want most of all: love, affection, a home, nothing sad to cry about, no yelling, gentleness. Here are the lyrics and an image of Rebecca Rebouche’s coloring mural. Her very large mural is entitled “Let’s Travel”; I was given one and went to the store and bought three more as it is so enchanting and perfect for art therapy. I highly recommend it for all ages, individual and group, and even family art therapy:

Here is the link to the image on Anthropologie’s website:
http://www.anthropologie.com/anthro/product/shopgifts-under-fifty/33736455.jsp#/

Here are the lyrics to the song:

“Castle On A Cloud”
(performed by Isabelle Allen)

There is a castle on a cloud,
I like to go there in my sleep,
Aren’t any floors for me to sweep,
Not in my castle on a cloud.

There is a room that’s full of toys.
There are a hundred boys and girls.
Nobody shouts or talks too loud,
Not in my castle on a cloud.

There is a lady all in white,
Holds me and sings a lullaby,
She’s nice to see and she’s soft to touch,
She says, “Cosette, I love you very much.”

I know a place where no one’s lost,
I know a place where no one cries,
Crying at all is not allowed,
Not in my castle on a cloud.